Interview with women fiction’s author Laura McNeill

Laura McNeill is in the hot seat today to chat with me about her romantic
suspense novel, Center of Gravity.

As she does a virtual book tour for her novel, Laura will be awarding a
randomly drawn lucky winner a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice)
gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free
to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Laura adores hot coffee,
good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight.
She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the
world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain
six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the
Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include
awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best
Specialized Reporter.
works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media
manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the
American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s
Festival of Flowers.
was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of
HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be
published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein,
president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards
include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition,
Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.
can find Laura Tweeting @Lauramcneillbks and blogging at
Laura’s domestic suspense novel, Center of Gravity
, can be found wherever fine books
are sold.

Welcome, Laura. Please tell us about
your current release.

its core, Center of Gravity is about
the dissolution of a marriage, and how all of the players react when tragedy

my hope that readers connect with Ava – a woman who finds strength deep within
herself when almost everyone else has given up on her. Like so many of the
women I’ve met over the years, Ava is tenacious, smart, sensitive, and, as it
turns out, a bit naïve, when it comes to trusting and believing in the man
she’s chosen to marry. She’d like to cling to the fairytale of having a perfect
marriage, but eventually sees through her husband’s charming façade.
message is that women are stronger than they believe, love can persevere, and
there is life after betrayal and tragedy.

What inspired you to write this book?
Center of Gravity is a very
personal story for me. I began my career as an author writing Southern women’s
fiction under the pen name “Lauren Clark.” I really enjoyed these fun, frothy
tales, but halfway through the writing of my second novel, my marriage fell
apart. Everything that I had built and trusted had come unglued. I wasn’t
sleeping or eating; I was worried about my children, about my job, and about my
future. I shelved the novel, moved into a new house in a new neighborhood, and
restarted my life.

later, it hit me that I missed writing. But I couldn’t bring myself to write
comedy and romance. This time, I tackled a serious storyline, a suspenseful
story about a family in peril. I had spent the past year or more talking to
other women and men about their stories of love and loss. It seemed
that everyone I talked to had an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, or a
sister who had been through a tragic, heart wrenching break up. Some involved
children, some didn’t. Many included alienation from friends and family. Some
involved violence. The majority involved a long, drawn out court battles. All
of the stories left me feeling, somehow, that I was not quite alone. I began
writing the novel which would become “Center of Gravity.”

Excerpt from Center of Gravity:
The road rushes under the wheels. I
rearrange snippets of the frantic conversation. Gash. Some blood. Breathing
fine. Emergency room.
A few more miles to the hospital.

I flash back to this morning. Packed
sack lunch, flop of dark hair across his bare forehead, navy backpack slung
over one shoulder. A surge of pure love courses through my heart. A stab of
worry steals my breath. I force myself to focus.
The traffic light ahead flashes
green to yellow. Intersection’s clear. I push the accelerator to the floor,
glance in the rearview mirror. Air from the open window catches Sam’s wisps of
hair. He smiles, showing off his first few baby teeth, and reaches a chubby
hand at the rays of sunshine streaking by, trying to catch the light.
Thump. Thump. The Jeep jerks to the left. I guide the wheel, hold it
steady, and take my foot off the gas. When I pull over and brake, the abrupt
stop sends up a dust cloud.
“Uh-oh,” Sam says.
I unbuckle, jump out, and survey the
damage. A glance at the tire confirms it. Flat. Dead.          
Hands on my hips, I bite my lip.
Tentatively, I grab the jack from
the back of the Jeep, the weight of it solid and heavy in my hands. I can fix
this. After all, in my former life, as a school counselor at Mobile Prep, I was
the problem-solver, crisis manager, and shoulder to cry on. I always handled
situations. And I didn’t need help.
Then my eyes fall on Sam as he
babbles and blows bubbles in the back seat. I hesitate, gripping the metal
between my palms. As the sun beats down on us, heating my skin, my pulse begins
to race. Maybe I was fearless because I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t a mom
then. I didn’t have two children depending on me. Trusting me to do the right
thing, be on time, and not screw up.

What exciting story are you working on

My second HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson book will be released in April of 2016. Sister Dear is the story of a woman,
Allie Marshall, who goes to prison for a crime she doesn’t commit, leaving
behind a 5-year old daughter. When Allie is paroled 10 years later, she hopes
to reclaim her quiet life and move on, but her daughter, now a teenager, soon
challenges her innocence. In her quest to find justice, Allie discovers that
the one person she trusts most committed the ultimate betrayal a decade

When did you first consider yourself a
after my second novel under the pen name Lauren Clark came out in 2012. I wrote
4 novels and one short story under this pen name in the sweet and humorous
women’s fiction genre.
really feels “real” now that HarperCollins published my domestic suspense
novel, Center of Gravity under my
real name, Laura McNeill, and that Sister
(same genre – domestic suspense) is coming out in April 2016.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I hold down a full-time job and am the single mom of two boys. I’m also in
graduate school, so that keeps things “exciting.”

tend to do my best writing in the morning. I stay in my yoga pants and a
t-shirt and type in my tiny office, sipping coffee that I made myself. I like
to write from 6 am until 8 am, when I spring up from my chair and race to grab
a shower, find decent clothes, and get to work. In the evenings, it’s
Mommy-mode, and I help with homework, take my boys to activities, or do my own

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

Must have coffee! J

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

Indian Princess named Tiger Lily!

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

Thank you to everyone who has shown so much love and support for Center of Gravity! The response has been
overwhelmingly positive and I am so very grateful!


Thanks, Laura!

10 thoughts on “Interview with women fiction’s author Laura McNeill

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mai – Great question! I think a giraffe, as I like the idea of being able to see far and wide and get the big picture. Of course, I've thought about being a lioness for bravery and strength.

    🙂 Laura

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lisa – Thank you for featuring Center of Gravity today! Loved the Q & A and being spotlighted on your website!
    xo, Laura

  3. Ally Swanson says:

    I enjoyed reading the excerpt and the interview. This book sounds like such an interesting read! Also, I totally love the book cover! Very intriguing!

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